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Crack The Sky - From The Greenhouse CD (album) cover


Crack The Sky

Heavy Prog

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4 stars Quite simply one of the most under rated albums ever of any genre! In fact I'm only giving this album four stars and not five because of the drum machine that is used which might put some people off.

To tell you the truth I have never heard any of this bands seventies output except maybe a song here or there on prog internet radio. Also, I wouldn't even really call this prog rock but more like art rock. Sure there are definitely prog elements on here like the use of keyboards and different arrangements but over all this is more in the art rock school than pure prog. For one thing the songs are pretty basic and there's not a lot in the way of long instrumental sections like in prog. That said none of that really matters if you enjoy good music. There is a definite uplifting, happy or bright vibe going on here and that might put some people off because some of this might be considered sappy or syrupy sounding to some(another reason why it would never be called pure prog). But again it's all about the music and despite that happy kind of song that permeates some of the tracks the lyrics are often kind of cynical focusing on the darker aspects of human nature and as a result could be considered "liberal." To me the band is just telling it like it is and regardless of your politics you can't deny that this is some very melodic and well played rock. I always sort of thought of this record(which I first picked up back in 1989 shortly after it first came out)as a cross between the Wall era Pink Floyd and early to mid 80's Rush (think Signals-Hold your Fire and it's in that ballpark)and I still think that stands for the most part but this would probably also appeal to fans of Styx and 80's Yes as well as maybe later Genesis. So yes this is a somewhat poppy sounding album and it is very accessible but it kind of brings out the kid you at least until you pay attention to the lyrics which like I hinted at are socio -political at times.

Like I said earlier my only criticism of this disc is the drum machine but other than that I think it's a pretty much perfect album. The album starts of with the title track "from the greenhouse" which is very reminiscent of Pink Floyd especially in the guitar. The chorus of "after all we've been through...doesn't it seem a little bit funny to you...." is one of the most haunting and memorable things I've heard. The whole album could consist of the best songs the radio never played and I still can't figure out why none of these songs were ever hits. I did hear the title track on the radio once(not counting a special on the group which is how I discovered them)but that was a rare thing and only to promote new albums. Next up is "under red skies" which is kind of laid back and with a nice almost bluesy or folky feel to it. The third track "big money" is a bit of a rocker with a big almost arena rock kind of quality to it especially with the chorus."The frozen rain" is next and contains a very beautiful melody which will be reprised later on in the album. Next up is "monkey boy" which might put some people off at first because of the racial imagery but it is actually a very anti racist kind of song which seems to criticize the racist and intolerant views people have and still do hold. A good one but possibly the weakest link on the album. Next up is "all the things we do" which is a nice rocker but with a laid back quality. This is where the social commentary seems to be at it's sharpest on the album. The song even ends with a fake atomic bomb sound. Track number seven is another exercise in social commentary called "lost in america." The lyrics are almost humorous at times but don't take away from the fact they are trying to address serious often neglected matters. This track contains a very nice bluesy Floydish sounding guitar solo. I remember hearing that Genesis were a big influence on Crack the Sky but it seems that Pink Floyd must have been a pretty big influence to especially judging by this album. The last track is the longest at almost 8 minutes long and is called "Can I play for you(Ians song)." This track contains one of the most beautiful and melodies I've ever heard and although it's pretty laid back it is so inspired that it will do anything but put you to sleep. The strings are a very nice addition to this track and gives it a very big sound. Somewhere in the middle the track breaks into the theme of "frozen rain" and the chorus from that song is repeated. Very beautiful. All in all an all time unsung classic. It's possible that I've played this as much if not more so than any album I've ever owned. If you don't like aor or pop rock or stuff like 80's Rush or Styx or the 90125 or big Generator sounding Yes than this might not be for you but this is some great melodic rock with some prog elements(especially the last track)that is waiting to be discovered. The fact that I'm the first person to rate this album tells you this is a criminally neglected disc. Unfortunately it may be out of print.

Report this review (#73678)
Posted Friday, March 31, 2006 | Review Permalink
Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
3 stars Here's a funny story about this album. When it was released, the title track "From The Greenhouse" got a fair amount of airplay on the local AOR station. The hook in the song sounded like it was lifted directly from Pink Floyd's "Have A Cigar". I was managing a popular record/CD store in Cambridge, Mass. at the time. After the first dozen or so customers came in asking for "the new Pink Floyd album", and meaning this one, I displayed the album under a sign saying "Not Pink Floyd".

Anyway, this at the time was another comeback album, with guitarist Rick Witkowski rejoining the band for the first time since "White Music" back in 1980.

The results weren't bad. Not great, but listenable. But very derivative. The lyrics are pure Palumbo. Socio-political sarcasm, with a lot of humor. At time very poignant, at times very funny. The music however is pulled from a variety of sources. The title track, as noted above, sound like Floyd, not only in the hook, but also a guitar section sounds like "Brain Damage", and the whole feel of the song is Floyd-like.

In "The Frozen Rain", "All The Things We Do, and "Can I Play For You (Ian's Song)" you could play a game of find-the-Beatles-lick. While each is a nice song, the Beatles references are too blatant. And "Monkey Boy" sound like David Bowie, right down to Palumbo trying to sound like Bowie at times.

The band even rehashes the "Crack The Sky Secret Rock Rhythm", used since their very first album, most notably on "Hold On", "Lighten Up McGraw" and many others throughout the years.

For what it is, this is not a bad album. But only slightly prog.

Report this review (#224427)
Posted Saturday, July 4, 2009 | Review Permalink

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